At the ‘English Usage (Guides) Symposium’, Cambridge 2014, I was invited to account for my revision of Plain Words (Gowers, 2014), the style guide originally written by my great-grandfather, Sir Ernest Gowers (1880–1966). And because, by the time I gave that talk (see Gowers, 2018), I was already writing my own book on the English language, intended as a sort of adjunct to Plain Words, the arguments aired at that Cambridge gathering were particularly interesting to me. That said, they also left me more daunted than ever by my own project.
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